By Lori Duffy Foster

Olney, MD: Level Best Books, 2022. $16.95 paperback

Never Broken is the second book in Lori Duffy Foster’s Lisa Jamison series. If you haven’t read her previous book, A Dead Man’s Eyes (2021), it’s probably preferable to read that novel first, as some of the events of A Dead Man’s Eyes are referred to in Never Broken, and the first novel provides more background for the character.

Lisa Jamison is a newspaper reporter who became a mother in her mid-teens and is currently raising her now-teenage daughter and dealing with the common tensions that arise when a child reaches that age. In Never Broken, Lisa is stunned when a strange man, looking more dead than alive, climbs into her car. Feeling more compassion than fear, she shields him from ominous men who are looking for him and quickly discovers that this man is a victim of modern-day slavery and has a connection to a long-cold missing-person case that has haunted Lisa for years.

Never Broken works in part because of its quietly powerful sense of moral outrage, covering the too-rarely-addressed topic of human trafficking and exploring why certain people are exploited and their suffering is kept hidden. Foster once worked as a crime reporter, so it’s reasonable to believe she’s drawing on her work experience, and Never Broken is in many ways a love letter to journalism that seeks to expose societal ills. Often, the books that stay with you the longest are the ones that cause you to look at the world in a different way, and Never Broken will make you wonder if sweatshops operated with forced labor are hidden in your city, tucked away in areas you never visit. Furthermore, the imagery of invisible victims who are treated as disposable commodities lingers long after the book is closed. Quietly resonant moral indignation gives Never Broken life, as it makes readers wonder if evil is proliferating in ways and places they never thought possible.

—Chris Chan